The number of people using their smartphones for web access has been growing at an astonishingly rapid rate, but there is a problem. Because whilst the number of people using the Internet through their mobile handsets has been growing, the response from web developers and website designers have been somewhat lax.
In fact a worrying number of websites are completely impossible to load, view or navigate using a mobile phone, and I’m not talking here about personal websites by people who really aren’t bothered about things like traffic or search engine rankings. Many small and medium-sized businesses which have invested a good deal of time and money in online marketing have completely missed the fact that a huge amount of traffic is now coming through smartphone technology.
Google recognised this growing use of smartphone technology some time ago, and responded initially by launching their Googlebot-Mobile for smart phones back in December 2011. The purpose of this was to specifically identify web content which has been optimised or created for viewing on smartphone and tablet PCs.
This week Google have returned to the subject of smartphone optimised websites by offering a few of their own recommendations on how to build websites optimised for smartphones so that businesses stand a better chance of performing well not just in Google’s main search results, but in the search results they deliver when people carry out searches on their smartphones.
Effectively There Are Three Main Ways In Which You Can Optimise A Website For Smartphones.
1. Use Responsive Web Design.
This effectively delivers the same content through the same URLs, using CSS to simply affect how the page is rendered depending on the device being used. This is actually Google’s referred method, and you can find practical recommendations and information relating to this form of responsive web design by visiting http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/responsive-design-harnessing-power-of.html.
This is actually the method we plan to use on our new website!
2. Dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URL’s.
You could have a set of URLs, with each URL delivering a different format of HTML and CSS depending upon whether the device being used is a standard computer or smartphone. Often this method uses redirects.
3. Have separate mobile and desktop sites.
The third method is to have completely separate websites specifically designed for either desktop computers or smart phones. Obviously here you will require redirects to send traffic to the correct version.
Many people are worried that by having separate websites their online marketing and SEO will be diluted. This isn’t necessarily true, but obviously creating and maintaining two separate sites is far more work, since any changes or updates applied to one will need to be separately applied to the other, and quite possibly using different approaches.
However Google has made clear that when Googlebot-Mobile identifies a page, website or URL which is specifically optimised for mobile phones, and Google also identifies that there is a redirect to that URL from elsewhere, it will list the final destination in the search results rather than the URL which causes the redirect.
So How Much Traffic Is Your Business Missing Out On?
No business today can ignore the fact that Google is not the only search engine, with a very sizeable chunk of traffic coming steadily through Bing. But equally no business today can ignore the fact that a huge chunk of traffic is coming through smartphones.
By having a website which cannot adequately be accessed, view or navigated using a smartphone device you are missing out on a huge source of traffic, whilst at the same time giving out a very clear message that you are either ignorant of modern technology, or you don’t care that many of your potential customers wish to access your site using a smartphone. Neither of these messages are ones which you can afford to broadcast.
If you don’t have a smartphone yourself, and haven’t tried looking to see what your website looks like on such a device then visit http://testiphone.com where you can determine for yourself how user-friendly your website is.
Have you made any changes to your website in order to optimise it more effectively for smartphone browsing? Have you tried looking at your own website or smartphone device? Do you browse the internet on your own smartphone, and find it frustrating when you come across sites which are virtually impossible to read or navigate? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.
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